Not only did her thin cracker roast perfectly on the hot stove, but she was able to pull a long silk thread through the needle without tangling. When they asked her to draw a tree to assess her personality and also verified her graduation certificate; little did my erudite grandfather know that the slender girl who had made my 6 foot 3 father fall head over heels in love with her, by just a quick glance over a teacup and a plate of dainty cookies was not only a woman perfect to marry his son but my beautiful, strong and resourceful mother was accomplished enough to rule the land. (Cover Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons: Bombay Market)
Today I will tell you how this lovely lady with midnight blue eyes recognized my writing talent and made me play Cupid. I was in eighth grade; we lived in a rambling mansion in the city of nectar, the border town of Amritsar. My dad worked for E Merck, a German pharmaceutical company. He was transferred to Bombay on promotion as a regional manager. Dad went to Bombay alone and was pondering to send us to Chandigarh, thinking it would be hard for us to be away from extended family among strangers.
But Mom wanted us to be together. More so, she wanted to be with dad, so she asked me to pen him a note. She dictated but gave me full liberty to embellish it.
Dear Dad, I wrote:
We miss you; we don’t want you to be alone in the big city. We yearn for our conversations at the dinner table. There’s no one coax us to eat more spinach or not to squabble over the last slice of mango. The sitting room is lonely, too, because we don’t have your eccentric friends over for poetry readings. We can’t sleep outside in the courtyard under the stars, and it’s not fun reading stories alone. Your office mail is accumulating, and Mom makes me do too much math. Even the parrot misses you because he can’t climb up and perch on your head.
If you bring us to Bombay, we promise you that we will adjust well and not complain about living in a small apartment, about learning a new language, or going without weekend treats or vacations as long as we can see you every day.
We miss you, Daddy. We want to be with you!
As soon as Dad got my letter, he wrote back that he was lonesome too. He would try to come over a long weekend and see how he could organize something as soon as mom read this. It gave her hope. Hope gave her wings! In two days, she packed our stuff in big crates, and nailed them shut with the insouciant hand of an artist that she was! With her savings, she bought four one way tickets from Amritsar to Bombay, and since she could not organize a transport service at such short notice, she hailed a bullock cart. This primitive but practical carriage carted our belongings, including a Kelvin refrigerator to the train station swaying gently like a newly married bride.
When Dad saw his family pantheon on a rickshaw followed by a quixotic bullock cart, he burst out laughing! He looked at my mother, and by the set of her jaw, he knew she meant business. He asked her how we will carry all this to Bombay on the train? That’s your problem. She said: We are going with you! Here are the tickets. Luckily for him, the station master was Dad’s friend, so he kept our stuff under a tarp and sent it to us one item at a time. The last one to arrive was our fridge. That day my mom made the best mango ice cream!
— Monita Soni
Monita Soni MD is a pathologist who has served the Tennessee Valley through her diagnostic laboratory, PrimePath PC in Decatur. She is the past president of the Huntsville Literary Association and has published poems and essays in news papers and journals ( Poet’s Choice, Alabama Writer’s Conclave, Limestone Dust,Tabula Rasa). Her book of poetry “My Light Reflections” speaks to the heart. She is a regular reader on the Sundial Writer’s Corner on WLRH and thrives in the arts community in Huntsville. She is inspired by twentieth century poets (Robert Frost, Keats, Shelley, Browning and Tagore) and ancient Sufi poet like Hafiz, Rumi and Faiz. From Mumbai, India and living in Alabama for fifteen years, her life and writing style is a pleasing hybrid of eastern and western cultures.